Phobia refers to a mental illness related to fear. Therefore, so-called homophobia should refer to a mental illness related to the fear of homosexuals or homosexuality. Interestingly, while homosexuals vehemently reject being considered mentally ill, they have no problems regarding those who dislike homosexuality as mentally ill.
Some mental health professionals have proposed that racism, sexism, and homophobia constitute a form of psychopathology deserving of its own category, namely intolerant personality disorder.(1) Kantor has even proposed an extensive typology of homophobia, arguing that homophobia exists in paranoid, affective, phobic-avoidant, obsessive-compulsive, and other forms corresponding to personality disorders.(2) Kantor has also invoked “genetically determined attitudes and behavior” in the etiology of homophobia.(2)
It is hard to imagine people being scared of homosexuals. However, if phobia denotes fear only, then far more heterophobic homosexuals than homophobic heterosexuals exist. Fear need not follow from hatred or vice versa. For instance, one could fear riding a motorcycle, but one need not hate motorcycles because one is scared of riding one. Similarly, one could hate Jar Jar Binks ®, but nobody fears him. Homosexuals and homophiles know this, and they define homophobia in terms of hatred of homosexuals or homosexuality. Some definitions of homophobia include an opposition to the demands of homosexuals, which is very curious.
Consider the following statement on the part of a conservative Christian who is commenting on a book written by a Christian on how to deal with homosexual activism:
The statement above will clearly be seen as homophobic. However, this statement is a slightly altered form of a statement by a homophile commenting on a book written on homophobia, and the actual statement is unlikely to be seen as heterophobic.
Many homosexuals and homophiles label someone homophobic as they please. Anyone who questions their labeling someone a homophobe himself becomes a homophobe. Even quoting factual statistics about the connection between homosexuality and AIDS is allegedly homophobic. Homosexuals have become so reckless in labeling others homophobic that in some circles, one can be labeled a homophobe for not praising homosexuality. For instance, consider the following passage written by Michael P. Wright:
My understanding of this reality about gay culture was facilitated by reading the opinion column of gay writer Mark Kerr, in the University of Oklahoma newspaper during the early 90s. Kerr had deep contempt for those he denounced as "tolerant" liberals. (30) To have his approval, others were required to express enthusiastic acceptance of gays. In his words: "These snotty-nosed liberals like to give the appearance of accepting queerness, when they are only being tolerant." Expressing the belief that straights need help in convincing themselves that they are "normal," Kerr dusts off the common gay psycho-babble that straights are insecure and "fear their own sexuality." He concludes by demanding that straights celebrate homosexuality and endorse it as "wonderful" and "fabulous." The headline over the column was "Tolerance: the Liberal Fear of a Queer Planet.
30. Mark Kerr, “Tolerance: the Liberal Fear of a Queer Planet,” The Oklahoma Daily, June 10, 1991, p. 12.
Similarly, Wall has even described acceptance of homosexuality as a form of homophobia because to talk about the acceptance of homosexuality is to imply that there is something about homosexuality that needs acceptance.(4) Wall notes that other forms of homophobia include repulsion, pity, and tolerance with respect to homosexuality. Wall describes support, admiration, appreciation, and nurturance as positive attitudes toward homosexuality.(4)
Less common terms used in lieu of homophobia, such as homoerotophobia and homosexophobia, also link a dislike of homosexuality to phobias, although homonegativism is an exception. Therefore, due to ambiguity and lack of standardization, the use of self-explanatory terms such as homo-disgust, homo-hatred, and homo-opposition is warranted. However, such terminology is unlikely to be adopted by left-identified academics because none of these terms possess an implicit notion of institutional discrimination, which they blame for the problems of homosexuals. In fact, homosexual and homophile academics have started shifting toward the use of heterosexism in lieu of homophobia given the ambiguity of homophobia and the attractiveness of bringing the literature on prejudice and discrimination against homosexuals in line with the rich literature on racism and sexism.
Having experienced prejudice and discrimination at the hands of homosexuals, bisexuals have come up with…you guessed it…biphobia, as well as monosexism, which refers to institutional structures, beliefs, or behaviors that are informed by the consideration that monosexualities (i.e., homosexuality or heterosexuality) are the only legitimate forms of sexuality. See if you can guess the meaning of the following phobias [and corresponding institutional discrimination terminology], soon to be added to the ever growing list of phobias plaguing humans: pedophobia [teleiosexism], sadomasophobia [soothesexism], hermaphophobia [gendersexism], transvestophobia [cisvestosexism], urophileophobia [hydrosexism], and pansexophobia [taxonosexism].
Opposition to some demands of homosexuals need not necessarily follow from the hatred of homosexuals. Likewise, someone may find homosexual behaviors disgusting but not oppose several demands of homosexuals out of a sense of justice or fairness.
On the other hand, while homosexual activists blame so-called homophobia for elevated psychiatric morbidity among homosexuals, a large body of evidence shows that this claim is unfounded (the increase in psychiatric morbidity is largely intrinsic). In addition, disgust at homosexual behavior is largely innate (see the Christianity page).
“Missing from his list of recommendations for lesbian and gay victims of homophobia are such possibilities as protest, radical violent and nonviolent cooperation, zerotolerance stances, suing the homophobe, and legal interventions, including protection orders from homophobes and suing analysts in situations where homophobic attitudes of the analyst cause harm.”(3)
- M. H. Guindon, A. G. Green, F. J. Hanna, Am J Orthopsychiatry 73, 167 (Apr, 2003).
- M. Kantor, Homophobia: description, development, and dynamic of gay bashing (Praeger, New York, 1998).
- B. R. S. Rosser, J Sex Res 36, 211 (May, 1999).
- V. Wall, “Beyond tolerance: gays, lesbians and bisexuals on campus. A handbook of structured experiences and exercises for training and development” (American College Personnel Association, 1995).